Tesla Model S review - Reliability and safety
Tesla offers an eight-year battery warranty for the Model S, while safety levels are first-rate
While Tesla has weathered various media storms around its Autopilot system, which has been implicated in a handful of serious accidents sometimes attributed to driver inattention, the underlying safety seems very good. The Model S performed well in EuroNCAP's crash tests in 2014, where it was awarded a full five stars. Individual scores included an 82% rating for adult occupant safety, 77% for child occupants and 66% for pedestrian protection. Its safety assistance package was rated at 71%, with the testers highlighting the fact that an autonomous City Braking system was not available at the time of the assessment.
In spite of its advanced digital technologies and lack of traditional switchgear, on our test we found that everything on the Tesla Model S worked perfectly fine. The non-digital/hardware components feel well fixed together too, and the car certainly feels as though it has been built to last.
Tesla is also committed to continually updating the software installed on all its vehicles. As well as routinely upgrading the performance of autonomous driving and safety systems, it’s also possible to effect ‘repairs’ over the air. For example in mid-2017, Tesla issued an over-the-air fix for a potential airbag fault, which would otherwise have prompted a nationwide recall notice.
The Model S comes with a battery and drive unit warranty lasting 8 years or 150,000 miles (whichever comes first), with a minimum 70% retention of battery capacity over the warranty period. It's transferrable between owners too, even if you never service the car. The rest of the car is covered for a reasonable four years, but with a rather ungenerous 50,000 mileage cap.
A fixed-price servicing plan covers service parts and wearing items such as wipers and brake pads (not tyres). At the time of writing the price is £1,800, which breaks down to £450 per year. That's pretty pricey compared to many more mainstream rivals.
In this review
- 1Tesla Model S reviewThe all-electric Tesla Model S is an impressively competent luxury EV, but new rivals mean it’s got a fight on its hands
- 2Engines, performance and drivePerformance is, erm, electrifying... but heavy batteries mean cornering feels disappointingly leaden
- 3Range, charging & running costsMinimal running costs and tax-breaks are appealing, while Tesla's Supercharger points are growing in number
- 4Interior, design and technologyIf you want to feel part of a digital future, the Model S is sure to impress
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spaceThe Tesla Model S has a futuristic luxury feel that belies an improbably practical interior
- 6Reliability and Safety - currently readingTesla offers an eight-year battery warranty for the Model S, while safety levels are first-rate